New Music Friday once again brings new gems for our listening delight. Roberta Flack is celebrating the 50th anniversary of her soulful ballad, “Killing Me Softly With His Song” while Kelela drops the newest teaser from her forthcoming, highly-anticipated album. Meanwhile, Coco Jones breathes new life into her hit debut EP, What I Didn’t Tell You, as Gene Noble takes the throne for top album of the year thus far with his latest release, Feel A Way. Whether you need a new pre-game soundtrack or have a deep yearning to be more introspective, there’s something here for R&B fans of all kinds.
Roberta Flack – “Killing Me Softly With His Song” (50th Anniversary Remix)
Roberta Flack’s timeless solo smash, “Killing Me Softly With His Song,” topped the Billboard Hot 100 for five non-consecutive weeks in 1973 prior to winning two GRAMMY Awards for Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female in the following year. To commemorate the record’s 50th anniversary, DJ Spinna along with Atlantic Records has released a new remix of the beloved tune.
This is the first remix in a series of classic Atlantic Records remixes coming this year to coincide with the label’s 75th-anniversary celebration. In a preview of her PBS documentary, American Masters: Roberta Flack—that’s premiering nationally on Jan. 24 at 9 p.m. ET—Flack explained how she first heard Lori Lieberman’s version on a flight from L.A. to New York, [and] immediately began working on her cover. “To my ears, it sounded better. I was not limited to just taking the song off of the page of music,” she reflected.
Two weeks later, in September 1972, she performed it live. “After I finished, the audience would not stop screaming, and Quincy [Jones] said, ‘Ro’ don’t sing that daggone song no more until you record it. And I said okay. And that was it.”
Flack’s rendition of “Killing Me Softly With His Song” was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame in 1999 and she was awarded the GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020.
Coco Jones – What I Didn’t Tell You (Deluxe)
Coco Jones, still riding the high that is “ICU,” returns with the deluxe edition of her debut EP, What I Didn’t Tell You. The extended project includes three new tracks plus the previously-released collaboration with Babyface, “Simple.”
The initial EP and “ICU” landed on VIBE’s Best R&B Albums and Best R&B Songs of 2022 lists, respectively. With the EP, it was stated, “Reaching roller coaster vocal runs that rise to heathery bliss to octaves that hit the ocean’s floor, Coco shows range and reach that brings What I Didn’t Tell You’s hit single ‘ICU’ to a guttural punch that settles in your heart.”
With the sultry “Fallin’,” the confident “Put You On,” and the declarative “Plan B,” Jones hits this resequenced deluxe right out the park.
Gene Noble – Feel A Way
Gene Noble challenged what fans thought we know about him and the understood an assignment of his own making. After “Whatever It Is” lured fans back into his musical home, he released his new album, Feel A Way—which makes us do just that.
“‘Feel A Way’ is a project full of songs that I’ve recorded literally around the world in different feelings, in different moments, and having different thoughts,” said the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter in a statement. It banks on his “creative and personal liberation” while also being a relatable reflection of working through his feelings, instead of just showing the end results of that process. Through a gutting albeit warmly familiar journey of acceptance and forgiveness, this is a solid contender as one of this year’s Best R&B albums.
Mack Keane & ESTA – “Super”
Mack Keane and ESTA merge their magical vocal and production to create the softly poignant “Super,” their first release since the arrival of their 2022 EP, Intersections.
Of the single, the duo revealed in a statement, “‘Super’ was one of the first songs we ever made, before we even knew we were going to do a project together. We played a demo version of it on Soulection Radio this past summer after ‘Intersections’ came out and got a really strong reaction, so we
wanted to give our fans what they wanted. The song is about the nuances of love, the commitment to show up in the best way you can despite the inevitable hardships.”
DIXSON – “BARELY”
DIXSON is making his directorial debut with the visual for his single, “BARELY,” from his latest EP, 004DAISY. The Grammy-nominated phenom is not a newcomer by any means, but that doesn’t mean an old dog can’t flaunt new tricks. Starring esteemed actor Enoch King, alongside Jonathan Carter and Wysenia Daesha Jones, the visual is a gripping and slightly comical depiction of where being cold-hearted can get you.
Masego – “You Never Visit Me”
The visual for Masego’s newest single, “You Never Visit Me,” is a masterclass in delusional escapism. You can be surrounded by beautiful views and adventurous friends, but still not be satisfied because your biggest desire can’t be fulfilled. Directed on location in Brazil by Malison Soares, the video is an accurate portrayal of masking your pain.
Catch the crooner perform this live during his North American tour this spring.
Kelela – “Contact”
Kelela’s next single from her forthcoming album, Raven, is a quintessential pre-game anthem. “‘Contact’ has a little bit of something for every part of the night,” she revealed in a statement. “It’s also the interior club experience: the heat that envelops you when you walk into a packed rave. All this culminates in a very naughty, psychedelic moment in the back of the club with a lover.”
The visual elevates the track as an intimately sultry “diary” of what her pre-gaming entails.
“I love having my real friends in my videos, and my bestie and collaborator Janiva Ellis makes a cameo in this one. It captures candid moments of having fun and being silly,” Kelela added of the video.
Raven, slated for release on Feb. 10, highlights a new era from Kelela as she encourages listeners to dive deeper into themselves. It describes as a deeply intentional “radical surrender” as oscillates between jazz, R&B, dance/electronic waves.